June 17, 2006

Football: It’s a Vesica Piscis!
Stewie and Arnold

Stewie Griffin and Arnold: fitting namesakes for our American football.

It’s the World Cup and EVERYBODY has football fever. Everybody but Americans. Ok, not all Americans. Everybody south of our soon-to-be fortified US-Mexican border is glued to their TV. The rest of us are carrying on our lives as we always do —waiting for our football season to start in the Fall. We live Saul Steinberg lives: there is the US and then there is the rest of the world.

We’ve got miles and feet; the rest of the globe has kilometers and meters. We’ve got gallons and quarts; you’ve got liters. It’s a divided world. Us and them. And for us it’s soccer, not football. And for us it’s a weekend of NBA and hockey finals with a little baseball thrown in for good measure.

Our football is just one of a number of sports that use that name, including rugby football, Canadian football, Gaelic football, and Australian Rules football. But to the majority of the world football refers to Association Football (as in the present World Cup football).

The term soccer, on the other hand, is only used here, in Canada, and in that bastion of soccermania, Samoa. Soccer came from the slang abbreviation of Association. New Zealand and Australia used to be on our side. But last month NZ dropped the word soccer from its official governing body’s name (now Football New Zealand) and those Australians caused a big controversy Downunder when they too changed their name to Football Federation Australia (most citizens in Oz still refer to it by “our” name). Just like our Iraqi Coalition, our allies are slowly falling by the wayside.

Much has been written about the sport’s lackluster popularity in the US. Perhaps if we changed the name of our soccer to the more “terra-centric” football, it might stand a chance.

But what to do with our own football? Two major sports with the same name could cause mass confusion. If we ditch soccer for football, what to do with the real football, I mean our North American sport? Branding is everything these days. A new and better name would make everybody happy and make us forget the old name just like that. (Loyalty? What’s that?)

Ummm, let’s see. We could call it Stewie Ball, after Family Guy’s Stewie Griffin. His head is shaped like our football and his number one goal in life is Total World Domination. That sounds American. Or how about Arnold Ball after the title character of Hey Arnold! He, too, has a football shaped head. It’s a natural.

Or we could be more scientific. The shape of our football is technically a Vesica Piscis, the intersection of two identically-sized circles. We could call our sport Piscis (which would explain what happens when fans drink too much beer at games). Vesica Piscis literally means “bladder of the fish” (which would also explain the likes of famous football commentators like John Madden and Howard Cosell). You see? It’s all starting to fit.

There are also mythical and religious aspects to Vesica Piscis which, of course, coincide with the religious fervor of American football fans (and if I may connect the dots, the special place religion plays in American sports today). The Pathogreans considered it a holy figure.

The mathematical ratio of its width (measured to the endpoints of the “body”, not including the “tail”) to its height was reportedly believed by them to be 265:153. This ratio, equal to 1.73203, was thought of as a holy number, called the measure of the fish. The geometric ratio of these dimensions is actually the square root of 3, or 1.73205…

The ratio 265:153 is an approximation to the square root of 3, with the property that no better approximation can be obtained with smaller whole numbers. The number 153 appears in the Gospel of John as the exact number of fish Jesus caused to be caught in a miraculous catch of fish, which is thought by some to be a coded reference to Pythagorean beliefs.


See what I mean? IT IS starting to fit.

The Republicans should bring this up for a vote in Congress. A heated debate on something (anything!) surely would take our minds off of serious geo-political world events right now. Iraq isn’t going so well at the moment so lets replace our fixation on the maim and destruction in Bagdad with sportsman-like violence on the football field.

If I could just get the Bushes to play a game of Touch Piscis on the White House lawn this July 4th, that would give my name-change initiative just the push it needs.

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Isn’t it called gridiron? That’s what we aussies call your ‘football’.

Posted by: Piers Morgan on June 18, 2006 4:34 PM

Well, that’s a new one. I never knew that (we often refer to the field as “the gridiron”).

BTW, I’m sorry for your loss (to Brazil).

Posted by: Jeff on June 18, 2006 4:39 PM

If you are a football/soccer fan with geek tendencies, try watching the World Cup in ASCII. Open up your terminal program and follow the directions at http://ascii-wm.net/. It’s very cool. (Via listsanddiagrams.com)

Posted by: Jeff on June 18, 2006 4:52 PM

Comments are now closed for this post. But there are a few other entries which might provoke an opinion or two.

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